If you are a city dweller like me, you may know very little about fishing. There is a lot to be prepared for: you need a fishing rod (properly set up; bait (the right bait for the right catch); a gutting knife (ewww!). Then you have to know both where to go, and what to do when you get there.
If, after a while you are fortunate enough to hook a fish, you have to figure out how to successfully reel the thing in. Once you have it on dry land, what do you do? How do you prepare it? Once you figure all that out . . . well . . . then and only then can you relax and enjoy dinner.
But getting to dinner, that is the challenge. On my first fishing expedition, I had an experienced fisherman (my uncle) guide me through the process, beginning to end. And having that experienced advisor made a huge difference!
Fishing through Probate
Finding out about the passing of a loved one is far more sobering than a fishing expedition. But being named an executor in the deceased’s will can feel much like being a novice at angling. What do you need? What needs to be done? What should you do first? Where can you turn for help?
Even as a law school graduate, I quickly discovered that working through the administration of the estate of a loved one for the first time was challenging. The practical aspects felt like that fishing experience I had as a kid… but without the experienced fisherman at my shoulder.
Your Probate lawyer brings that experience and can lead you though the process from beginning to end.
Probate or Administration
If a person dies with a Will, that Will usually must be validated by the court in a process called Probate. The Latin word Probus, means “good” or “honest”. It has the idea of being proved good and has come into English through the word Probate, “the court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid.”
PROBATE: being proved good and has come into English through the word Probate - the court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid.
If a person dies without a will (intestate) then the court needs to appoint someone to administer the estate. This is much more complicated (everyone should have a will, and if you don’t check out our online Wills App here).
Your Role as Personal Representative
Once the Will has been probated, or a grant of administration has been given, the person(s) recognized, or appointed by the court are known in law as Personal Representatives (the “PR”s) of the Deceased.
The PR, once recognized, is responsible not only for managing their own lives, as usual, but also the estate (or property) of the deceased! Think about it. You have to pay all their bills (if you can find them). You have to settle all their debts and collect on all their loans. You have to sell their real estate (think how stressful selling your last home was!).
If you are the Personal Representative for a recently passed loved one, give us a call at Richards + Company to engage an experienced guide to get you through this challenging time.
Chad Graham is a Barrister & Solicitor with Richards + Company. He practices estate law (dealing with probate and administration of wills). real estate, corporate commercial, and has been growing a not-for-profit practice as well.